While the President Doubles Down, the GOP Tries Desperately to Navigate the Trump Chaos
The presidency has entered into full chaos mode.
In what has to be one of the craziest weeks of his presidential term, Donald Trump went scorched earth, going after members of his own team in an effort to stop leaks and take control of messaging. The chaos has led to yet another senior cabinet official’s departure, with the status of several others in question as we speak.
The walls are starting to close in around this president. He is feeling the heat of the investigation into his ties to Russian interests, and like a wounded animal that has been backed into a corner, he is lashing out. And the results are often just as unpredictable.
The Sessions Debacle
The madness really started when the president lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, seemingly out of the blue, for his reccusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions, a radical nationalist former Senator from Alabama, was one of the first on board the Trump train, risking his reputation in the party to endorse the candidate. As happens so often in the world of the Don, loyalty is a one-way street.
The president has been berating him almost daily on twitter and in news outlets, attacking him as weak and ineffective. Sessions has taken all the abuse in stride, refusing to give in to an obvious attempt to force his resignation.
In Comes The Mooch
Looking to clean house, Trump then hired Steve Scaramucci to be his communications director. A foul-mouthed Wall Street slickster who prefers “front-stabbing”, Scaramucci acts as the commander in chief’s wiseguy enforcer, his very own Joe Pesci.
His first target was Reince Priebus, who he considered a leaker. He taunted the Chief of Staff in a series of tweets, and ultimately sent him out the door, gangland style. Priebus, for his part, was a good soldier and fell on the sword as he was told. In his exit interview with CNN, he declared himself to be forever a Trump supporter.
The Mooch is far from done. Vowing to “f–king kill all of the leakers”, he will be making his presence felt. He went after Steve Bannon by name, crudely asserting that he is trying to “build his brand on the strength of the president.” Was this just alpha barking, or is Bannon short for this administration?
That is doubtful. It looks like this could be the start of Trump’s long anticipated break from the Republican establishment, and that is a battle that Bannon is made for. Plus, the chief strategist thrives in chaos. He is right in his element.
The Circle of Trust
The chaotic circus and the ensuing purge have not given pause to those closest to him. In fact, his family are actually the ones clamping down, helping weed out untrustworthy individuals and replace them with close family friends such as the Mooch.
The Trump family, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s Uday-and-Qusay-like sons Don, Jr., and Eric, wife Melania, and a tiny handful of their closest supporters, in a panic, are tightening the “circle of trust.”…
And it’s happening because President Trump, his family and his closest friends are facing a relentless special counsel, Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI who’s leading a veteran team of prosecutors, in parallel with investigators from the Senate and House intelligence committees. Like Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, they’re coming after him. Donald Trump, his three children and his son-in-law have decided that, at all costs, they have to protect themselves.
As the walls continue to close in, and Mueller begins to unearth more and more unscrupulous dealings, you have to wonder just how far this president is willing to go to protect himself. His pension for nepotism is well known, and it is getting to the point where only family and true believers remain.
Will this standoff ultimately end in something like a constitutional crisis, where the legitimacy of our system of checks and balances gets called into question due to the actions of a rouge figure? That is a very real outcome to this situation.
The further Mr Mueller progresses, the more Mr Trump panics. His reactions betray his motives. No reasonable observer could conclude that Mr Trump is willing to open his books. Having refused to release his tax returns, he risks a constitutional crisis to stop US law enforcement officers from looking into his business dealings. The two are obviously connected. Sooner or later, serious investigators end up following the money. Mr Mueller is nothing if not thorough. Mr Trump is nothing if not ruthless. It can only result in a collision.
The president has very clearly displayed that he demands absolute loyalty from his subordinates. Many of those subordinates, along with Congress, have thus far acquiesced.
But when the bill comes due for their sycophancy, it will be all of the citizenry that will have to pay.